Category Archives: weight loss

Release, Activate and Transform: A Four Week Intensive Health Group Coaching Program

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What:    A four session intensive group coaching program series to learn how to deal with weight gain, cravings, food allergies, digestive issues and low energy.

Why:     To receive personalized professional attention, support, guidance and acommunity of peers during the process.

When:   Tuesdays February 4, 11, 18, 25, 6:00pm to 7:15pm

 Where: From the convenience of your home, call in and join the interactive teleconference.

During the course of this four session program, you will

  • Set and accomplish health goals
  • Reconnect with your body and feelings
  • Develop a personalized diet according to your body type that sustains and pleases you
  • Explore new foods
  • Identify and by-pass emotional areas that trigger emotional eating.
  • Find mastery over food cravings through healthy alternatives and mindful eating
  • Increase energy and vitality
  • Feel better in your body, mind and spirit
  • Improve personal relationships with yourself, others and nature
  • Receive the support of an experienced professional and a community of peers

Bonus:  preliminary individual health phone consultation, a closed Facebook group for daily check-ins, recordings of the sessions, hand-outs, individual recommendations, support from a buddy system.

Cost for the 4 sessions:                                         250$    

Payment by February 2:                                       225$

PayPal payment at: http://www.vivamivida.com

For more info: sirena@vivamivida.com

Sirena Pellarolo, Ph.D. believes in autonomous and vibrantly healthy individuals and communities. As a holistic healer, she models for her clients how to courageously step center-stage in their lives by unleashing their unique personal power, creative self-expression and overall wellbeing. Her bilingual programs inspire individuals to reconnect with their bodies, minds and spirits by going back to the basics of a healthy lifestyle: a personalized nutrient-rich diet, energizing physical movement and a meaningful spiritual practice. The seasonal community cleanses and raw food preparation classes that she has been hosting for several years offer a Do It Yourself hands-on approach to healing through nutrient-dense, plant-based choices. Sirena specializes in weight management for women in their menopause years. She is currently working on a manuscript that captures this experience titled “Detoxing Our Communities: Using Food As Medicine for a Quantum Grassroots Transformation.”

www.vivamivida.com

http://livefoods4life.com/

https://soundcloud.com/sirena-pellarolo

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A Hearty Quinoa and Vegetable Dish For the Cooler Season

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I know that quinoa–that incredible protein-rich/ gluten-free ancient seed from the Andes–, has become so popular among health observing eaters around the world, that it has increased its status in the global market as a priced commodity. So much so, that the ancestral consumers of the seed have a hard time affording to pay for it in their own country. I am aware of this, and hope that the cultivation of quinoa will become as widespread as its consumption, so that the original peoples from the Andean Altiplano are able to go back to their ancestral diet in a sustainable way. In fact, when I visited the Learning Garden in Venice Beach, CA some weeks ago, I was very happy to see that David King,  its Master Gardener, had some seeds of quinoa that he was planning to plant in the land. Hopefully, they will yield enough food to sustain the garden community.

For now, and aware of this controversy, I would like to share with you the delicious quinoa and veggie recipe I use for these cold nights.

quinoa plate

Ingredients

2 cups of white quinoa (could be other colors) soaked for at least 6 hours

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 white onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 cup of diced white mushrooms

1 red bell pepper

1 cup diced eggplant (in season)

½ cup chopped cilantro

Dulse flakes

Two tablespoons of miso paste

Braggs aminoacids

A dash of turmeric

1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast

Instructions

As any other seed, grain, bean or nut, I soak quinoa before I cook it. Soaking it in water helps unleash its life force as it neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors that are hard on our digestion. It makes it easier and quicker to cook.

Put the oil in a wok and stir fry the onions, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, eggplant. Add water if you need to make some juice and cover until the veggies are almost cooked. Pour the soaked quinoa and mix in with the veggies. Add the dulse flakes, the miso paste and the chopped cilantro, the turmeric, nutritional yeast and sprinkle it with Braggs. You will notice that the soaked quinoa cooks very quickly and, as soon as the water is consumed, turn off the stove and cover the wok. Enjoy with some vegan parmesan. Yummie!

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Deliciously simple vegetable soup recipe/ Simple y deliciosa sopa de vegetales

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Instructions in Spanish below

Simple veggie soup

This simple recipe is based on seasonal plant-based ingredients. The soup is delicious and it satisfies us during the Fall days. As it is made with simple ingredients that do not include fats or processed foods, it is very easy to digest, and perfect for a light supper on a cold day.

-DSC_1018sm1 big white or yellow onion
1 garlic clove
5 fine slices of ginger
1 diced jalapeño
2 carrots
2 diced yams
half a squash
a bunch of parsely
a bunch of spinach
3 celery sticks
1 sliced red bell pepper
a handful of dulse or nori flakes
a big spoonful of miso paste
a teaspoon of cumin
cayenne pepper
turmeric
filtered water

 

Instructions

Fill up a big pot with filtered water and bring it to a boil, as you add the hard root vegetables, that take longer to cook: yams, squash, ginger, carrots. Continue to add the rest of the veggies and the seaweed for seasoning, that give a delicious salty flavor to soups with the added benefit of the sea minerals. Cover until it boils. Add now the miso paste and the spices. Cook for 5 minutes and keep covered. Enjoy!

 

Sopa de vegetales

Esta simple receta está basada en ingredientes de la temporada, privilegiando el origen vegetal. La sopa es deliciosa, y nos satisface durante los primeros fríos del otoño. Ayudan a la digestión, porque los ingredients son simples y no incluye grasas o productos procesados. Nos da energía y felicidad.

Ingredientes

-DSC_1033sm1 cebolla blanca o amarilla grande
1 diente de ajo
5 rodajas finas de jengibre
1 jalapeño picado
2 zanahorias cortadas en rodajas
2 camotes cortados en cuadraditos
Media calabaza cortada en cuadritos
1 atado de perejil
1 atado de espinaca
3 apios
1 chile dulce rojo cortado en rodajas1 puñado de copos de dulse or nori (o sal de mar a gusto)
1 cucharada de miso
1 cucharadita de comino
Pimienta de cayena a gusto
Agua filtrada

 

Preparación:
Llenar una olla grande con agua filtrada y poner a hervir en la estufa. Agregar los vegetales duros, que llevan más tiempo de cocción: los camotes, la calabaza, el jengibre, las zanahorias. Continuar agregando el resto de los vegetales. Agregar el dulce o el nori (o la sal de mar) y cubrir con una tapa hasta que hierva. Cuando hierve, agregar el miso y las especies. Dejar cocinar por unos 5 minutos más y dejar tapado.

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My interview for the San Diego Veg Festival

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At wonderful veg cafe Casa de Luz, with organizers extraordinaires Linda Le and Elza Angulo

At wonderful veg cafe Casa de Luz, with organizers extraordinaires Linda Le and Elza Angulo

Last weekend I was invited to be a guest demo speaker for the second annual San Diego Veg Festival. I was asked to share my experience as a raw food educator and holistic healer, and it was a great opportunity to meet people ready to recover their health by choosing healthier food options. Here’s the interview:

  1. 1.      What do you enjoy most about your career in the veg community?

I enjoy the fact that it’s growing so fast. More and more people are getting into a plant-based diet and becoming much more aware of the issues related to the eating of animal products. In my own area of raw food, I see people experimenting with green juices and smoothies daily, and seeing the incredibly positive effects that these have in their health. I feel there is a change in consciousness in many areas, and food is one of them. People realize that to change the world, we need to change individually—as members of a larger community—and one of the ways is by paying attention to how we fuel our bodies, that is in accordance with a sustainable way of preserving our planet. Moreover, as a food justice activist, I believe in autonomous and vibrantly healthy individuals and communities, and that our bodies are the ultimate site of self-determination. So, in order to become really autonomous, the first thing we need to do is decolonize our bodies from commercial, processed food and other substances that keep us lethargic and lacking in energy.

  1. 2.      What is one thing you wish someone had told you before becoming a vegan/vegetarian?

Fortunately, I started exploring a raw food diet and cleansing in January 2002, when I participated in a program called The 21 Day Detox, led in Los Angeles by two amazing individuals, both naturopaths, Richard D’Andrea, M.D., and John Woods. I learnt so much from them, that I think they prepared me very well to go on my own journey safely. That’s why I have taken it to heart to teach other people how to develop personalized cleanses that are effective and safe. I felt the duty to share my experience with the Chicano/a Latino/a communities with whom I interact daily, as there is a lot of chronic disease and obesity in these communities due to a less than optimal diet resulting from the lack of good fresh produce in the “food deserts” where many of these people reside.

  1. 3.      What caused you to want to become veg friendly?

I was raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the ingestion of meat is overwhelming. When I arrived in this country in 1988 to pursue a doctoral program, luckily, I started eating much less meat because I felt it didn’t taste as good as back home. I also come from a history of emotional eating, so the idea of exploring a raw food diet and periodic detoxing was very appealing to me. It happened right at a time in my life when my spiritual practices were becoming much deeper, and it was natural for me to change my diet to support that process.

  1. 4.      Tell us more about your business? How can we get connected?

After years of hosting seasonal community cleanses and raw food preparation classes, I decided to retire from my position as a college professor and work full-time in the area of health. I became certified as a holistic health coach and have been growing my practice since late 2011. I am using everything I learnt in my own journey to support post-menopausal women to recover their power over their bodies, and debunk disempowering beliefs about aging. As a holistic healer, I model for my clients how to courageously step center-stage in their lives by unleashing their unique personal power, creative self-expression and overall wellbeing. I offer bilingual programs that inspire individuals to reconnect with their bodies, minds and spirits by going back to the basics of a healthy lifestyle: a personalized nutrient-rich diet, energizing physical movement and a meaningful spiritual practice. I specialize in weight management for women in their prime through life-changing programs that include DIY detoxifications, live foods and powerful transformational techniques. I also offer wellness seminars in English and Spanish.

I have a blog that focuses on live foods and detoxifications, http://livefoods4life.com/, and my holistic healing website is www.vivamivida.com.

  1. 5.      What other activities are you involved with in San Diego?

Every six months I spend a week doing a deep detox at the Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove, an amazing institution that firmly believes in the power of food as medicine. They follow Anne Wigmore’s principles of using the healing power of live food (sprouting, fermenting, juicing, lots of wheatgrass) to restore health. Every Friday morning, guests have the opportunity to share to the community their testimonials about healing with the power of plants. I have seen time and again hundreds of cases of individuals with “incurable diseases”–as defined by the traditional medical industrial complex–, make a 100% recovery and regain their health and vitality by sticking to this type of diet. Everything that I’ve learnt at OHI I share with the participants of my workshops and cleanses. I am looking forward to continue to collaborate with the San Diego Veg community in spreading this information to the public.

  1. 6.      What tips do you have for those wanting to stay on a veg-friendly path?

I would invite individuals to consider practicing a plant-based diet. I have seen many vegetarians and vegans who eat a lot of processed food, fake meats, etc. I think that the power of being on a veg-friendly path is to get acquainted with the amazing power of plants. That’s the natural fuel that our bodies need. And, if some “slips” happen, to just recommit and continue on the path. There are so many different varieties, flavors, textures, ways of preparing plants, that there is no way that we would feel deprived (not even in the intake of protein!). Also, I would suggest that individuals explore and pay close attention to their ancestral diet. According to the principle of “bio-individuality,” the great diversity of body types demand different types of diets.  Usually, whatever our ancestors ate, our bodies do well with. We can always modify those traditional dishes with choices that are more congruent with the diet that we choose now.

  1. 7.      What are your favorite veg dishes?

I like very simple flavors, and I eat mostly what I prepare at home. I love greens, and I prepare them in juices and smoothies, salads and wraps. I always tell the participants of my food preparation workshops that I am not that interested in gourmet raw food, that my diet mostly responds to the requirements of a “colon boot camp.” I’m interested mainly in food that makes me feel vibrant and healthy and that keeps my body clean. That’s why I am very much into fermentation and sprouting. I always sprout my beans, grains and nuts, and if I happen to prepare a cooked quinoa dish (my favorite grain/seed), I will sprout it for a couple of days first, so that the life force and enzymatic power gets unleashed and becomes more digestible and nutritious.

8. What advice do you have for those that are interested or curious about being a vegetarian/vegan?

I usually suggest to my clients to start slowly, adding veggies and fruits into their diet. The best way to do that is with green juices and smoothies. I have seen time and again that as people start to add these delicious and nutrient rich drinks into their diet, their taste buds get used to the natural flavors, they start to crave veggies and fruits due to the fact that they feel much better eating clean, and slowly, their diet starts transforming completely. This is a wonderful way to jump start a journey towards a plant-based diet. Enjoy the process, and don’t become too dogmatic, just find pleasure in your new choices!

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Are you looking for the Fountain of Youth? Exercise daily!

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So honored to have met amazing 64 year old marathon swimmer Diana Nyad at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, where I swim every week! Her incredible feat of swimming from Cuba to the Florida keys is an accomplishment that proves once again that our bodies--against popular beliefs--are ready to do whatever our minds decide they are capable of doing. Such an inspiration for women my age and beyond!!!

So honored to have met amazing 64 year old marathon swimmer Diana Nyad at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, where I swim every week! Her incredible feat of swimming from Cuba to the Florida keys is an accomplishment that proves once again that our bodies–against popular beliefs–are ready to do whatever our minds decide they are capable of doing. Such an inspiration for women my age and beyond!!!

Lately I’ve been watching closely how women my age and beyond are staying active and some of them, amazingly young-looking and vibrantly healthy and energetic. I saw a picture of Raquel Welch recently, who at 72 looked hotter in a leopard printed dress than Heidi Klum, who wore the same one. I’ve seen pictures of 79 year old Sophia Loren, who looks really stunning and still sexy. And of course, there is exercise guru Jane Fonda, who has been able to keep her body youthful and strong at 76, and recently released some of her secrets on a yoga DVD for women in their “prime time.” It seems that, as women who take care of themselves approach their seventh decade, they are pushing back the expected prime age for women way beyond the 50s.

Fonda confesses that as she was researching for her last book, titled Prime Time, she found in many of her sources that “staying physically active is just about the #1 factor in whether you have a good Third Act or not.” As we age, exercise keeps us healthy; she further asserts, “[a]ctivity strengthens the heart and bones, improves circulation, reduces obesity, thickens the skin and can help with depression because of the endorphins released into the system. Endorphins are brain chemicals that give relief from pain, enhance the immune system, reduce stress and bring us a sense of well-being.”

Another amazing icon mentioned above who has aged divinely is 60’s bombshell Sophia Loren, who, at her prime age of 79, believes firmly in the power of the mind to stay youthful “There IS a Fountain of Youth. It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age,” she affirms.

Exercise may be the closest thing to the Fountain of Youth. Not only does regular activity strengthen your muscles and improve heart and lung function, but it can also reduce your risk of major diseases, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and even add years to your life. Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits.

The range of health bonuses now attributed to exercise has surprised even doctors. Research suggests that workouts may do the following:

  1. Keep you young. Workouts such as brisk walking or cycling boost the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15 to 25 percent would be like shaving 10 to 20 years off your age. Aerobic exercise may also stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults.
  1. Reduce infections. Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. That may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds.
  1. Prevent heart attacks. Not only does exercise raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it reduces arterial inflammation, another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
  1. Ease asthma. New evidence shows that upper-body and breathing exercises can reduce the need to use an inhaler in mild cases of asthma.
  1. Control blood sugar. Exercise helps maintain a healthy blood-sugar level by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and by controlling weight. Regular brisk walking can significantly cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  1. Protect against cancer. Exercise may reduce the risk of colon-cancer by speeding waste through the gut and lowering the insulin level. It may also protect against breast and prostate cancer by regulating hormone levels.
  1. Combat stress. Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, exercise helps relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.
  1. Relieve hot flashes. Increasing fitness by walking or practicing yoga enhances mood and reduces some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
  1. Protect men’s health. Pelvic exercises help prevent erectile dysfunction and possibly benign prostate enlargement, a common cause of urinary problems.
  1. Prolong life. Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50 percent for men and women.

So, what are you waiting for? Get off the computer, and go out to play!

But please stay tuned! Coming up a special empowerment workshop for women in their prime Life is not over at 50, ladies! More info coming up soon!

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Update on my weight loss journey: 6 down and counting

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My daughter Paloma and I flanking super master teacher Marianne Williamson after one of her Monday night lectures at the Saban Theater

My daughter Paloma and I flanking super master teacher Marianne Williamson after one of her Monday night lectures at the Saban Theater

Ever since my last post about my weight loss process “A course in weight loss: a confession and an invitation” where I described my inability to lose weight and fit into the dress I had bought for my daughter’s wedding, I have released 6 pounds and I’m feeling really good about it, as I finally fit into the dress. No sense of deprivation here, just becoming more conscious about what I eat, even within the parameters of an “impeccable,” mostly raw plant-based diet.

The results are really due to a change in consciousness prompted by the exercises I have been doing daily from Marianne Williamson’s book A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Principles for Surrendering Your Weight Forever.

By means of that daily practice I was pushed to really look into myself and those places I was not addressing honestly. And as I did, and cleansed those parts of myself that were resisting change, I started to pay attention to resources that were right in front of my nose. For example, several months ago I had bought Alejandro Junger’s book Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself, (reviewed in a previous post “Are you ‘inflamed’?”), but had not had the time to look at it. It had been patiently waiting on my table for me to open it, and during this time of releasing resistances, it popped right in front my consciousness for me to read it. When I did, I decided to follow meticulously the “elimination diet” it proposes (see my previous post for a list of the most common allergenic and inflammation producing foods), I tweaked other aspects of my diet, and the pounds started to drop. Amazing!

As a health coach, my approach to weight loss or the jump-starting of a healthy way of eating is usually to invite my clients to start “crowding out” the unhealthy choices with nutrient-dense foods, mainly in the form of green veggie juices, smoothies and raw soups. I have found that many of my clients make astounding changes in their health by just adding these delicious drinks to their diets. (For recipes, please go here). As their bodies start receiving their quota of intelligent nutrients, their cellular memory wakes up after a slumber induced by chemicalized, processed food and other addictive substances and the cravings shift towards the fuel meant to make our bodies operate in an optimal fashion. Slowly but surely, cravings for non-supportive choices start melting away, as the body begins to crave natural, whole, clean foods.

I will be sharing this experience and offering personalized recommendations in my next program: A Course in Weight Loss: A Phone Group Coaching Program, a series of 8 phone sessions starting August 21, that will look deeply into the personal roots of excess weight and other body issues by following the principles presented in Marianne Williamson’s book. This phone group coaching program will support participants in developing a healthy relationship with their body that is honoring and respectful of its sacredness. For more information, please go here.

Register by August 15 to receive the savings!

If you’d like to receive information on my upcoming programs, please sign up here.

A course in weight loss: a confession and an invitation

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weight lossI recently started to read some of Marianne Williamson’s books, an author that I had seen several times as a public speaker, but whom I had not read. I have to say that her words are making a deep impact in my life right now in many different ways, mainly, by keeping me honest about my dark sides and how used I am to cover them up by focusing on “serving” others.

One of her books that called my attention is A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever. When I ordered it, it seemed like a great guide for my clients in their weight loss process, as most of them come to me for support as a health coach to accompany them in that journey. (Yes, I know: our clients will always mirror our own issues). I thought it would be so cool to offer a phone group coaching program using that text and having my clients work on the exercises included as a way to become reacquainted with the emotional and spiritual issues underlying excess weight. We would then share in the group setting and process together, as I coached each participant on ways to overcome the issues.

When the book arrived, I started reading it and doing the exercises myself. And suddenly it dawned on me: the volume was screaming at me loud and clear: “This book is first and foremost for YOU!”

Dah! Why didn’t I think about this before? I am the one with weight issues, I am the one who has survived eating disorders, I am the one who is still dealing with accepting her body as it is. “Hmmm…” I said to myself. “Now I get it! I became a health coach because I went through all this already, and I’m still working on it. But I tend to focus on other people and support THEM overcome THEIR issues.” “Come on, now,” said my Not Thin Me (la “gordita”)—a character I have been having extensive conversations with lately.  “Who are you trying to deceive? You have been hiding behind your ‘expertise and authority’ as a coach, when you can’t even release those last 15 pounds that need to melt away by the end of September, for your daughter Violeta’s wedding, so that you can fit into that lovely dress you bought two sizes smaller, as it was the last one they had in stock!”

Although that hurt, I had to agree with la Gordita. I bought this dress more than a month ago in the absolute certainty that if I decided to, I would release the extra weight by the wedding. But I was wrong: although I have been eating a quite “impeccable” plant-based diet, no sugar, no gluten, no animal products, no alcohol nor coffee, and I have been exercising six days a week, I haven’t lost a gram. “What’s wrong with my body?” I keep asking myself in despair. “I should be able to do this. I COACH people on how to eat better and lose weight, for crying out loud!”

Angered, I go back to Marianne’s book, and she reminds me that there’s still work to be done. I have not dealt with my “pain body”–as Eckart Tolle calls it: the stored repressed feelings that we carry around our body as a “padding,” (as Shirley likes to call it), as excess weight. And I humbly embark in a journey of introspection to get in touch with those unprocessed feelings that become the “burden” that I have not let go of yet.

So, early every morning, I dedicate my practice of journaling to really delving deep into those repressed  feelings that are hindering my ability to move forward. What is coming up is really amazing as it allows me to see clearly so many patterns in myself that I have hidden behind my outward behaviors: my alleged givingness to others as I support them in solving THEIR problems. What a wonderful and acceptable way of masking that core that is keeping me stuck in my old ways and is not allowing me to express fully, as it’s holding the “secrets” unsolved and stored in my mid-section!

The identification of these repressed feelings is not a shaming exercise. It’s a way of highlighting them to later press the “delete” key with the power of forgiveness. It’s quite a process that includes pain, sorrow and shame, and I know it’s helping me to grow in so many ways.

A necessary part of this growth process is to become honest in public.  This is very new to me. It’s my coming out as la Gordita. I usually don’t talk about myself, as I’m generally the one who is lending her ear to those who need to talk. But opening up is part of my own healing process. As I acknowledge publicly my own journey, I become a mirror for those who travel similar paths, reflecting back to them the face of a fellow traveler.

If this resonates with you, come walk with me. I will be offering an 8 session phone group coaching program using these principles and personalized attention starting Wednesday August 21, and ending November 27, right before Thanksgiving. I envision it to be quite a ride, and I will be there to support you and learn together. Please save the dates. For more info, please go here

Please sign up to receive information on my upcoming programs here.